Meet Toyota’s Quirky Re-Entry Into Battery EVs: The Two-Seater C+pod

It's just available to fleets right now, but Japanese consumers can buy one soon

Toyota C+pod
Toyota plans an expanded push toward electrification in the coming years, but battery EVs are thin on the ground. The C+pod aims to (somewhat) change that. (Photos: Toyota)

Remember the last battery EV Toyota sold?

If you live outside the state of California or other EV strongholds, you may have never seen a Toyota battery electric car before. I’m not talking about gas-electric hybrids — yes, there are plenty of those around. I mean pure battery electric vehicles unaided by alternative fuel of any kind (so that excludes the Mirai). The RAV4 EV has more or less been the sum of Toyota’s BEV ambitions to date. Even in the age of Tesla and “legacy” automakers jumping into using electrons to shuffle their cars around, Toyota’s been slow — bearish, some argue — when it comes to battery-powered vehicles. Akio Toyoda, the company’s president, caught some ire in recent weeks for his position on EVs, warning governments against banning gasoline-powered cars.

Still, nonetheless Toyota has to bend with the shifting automotive landscape. To that end, we’ve gotten this — the small C+pod (“See-plus-pod? See-pod-plus?”). Before you ask, perhaps with some chagrin, this car will not make its way to the U.S. Instead, the automaker launched this car to corporate and government fleet customers. From there, Japanese consumers will be able to buy it sometime in 2022.

Toyota C+pod
If you actually put two people in this car, prepare to rub elbows and knees.

Here’s the Toyota C+pod by the numbers

Tesla has shown the world what torque and speed electric cars can manage. Before you bring those assumptions to the C+pod, beware: it’s not a pocket rocket. It’s not as powerful as, say, our Smart ForTwo Electric Drive. Instead, this car manages just 12 horsepower from its small electric motor, mated to a 9.1-kWh battery pack. Top speed is just 37 mph, so it’s certainly not a car to blast on the freeway. Even if you could, the range as it sits is just 93 miles according to the global WLTP cycle. Still, for a car that’s smaller than a Smart ForTwo, if you can comprehend that one, it works well for Japan’s dense urban environments.

Tommy covers the little C+pod in detail below: